Jim was born and raised in the Burncoat neighborhood of Worcester. The values he learned from his friends and family are the same ones he fights for every day in Congress: fairness, decency, respect for all people, and the idea that each of us has an obligation to give back to our community. Jim’s parents, Walter and Mindy, own a small package store in Worcester, and his sisters are both public school teachers. He is married to Lisa Murray McGovern and they have two children, Patrick and Molly.
First elected to Congress in 1996, Jim has fought tirelessly for the people of Massachusetts and has earned the respect and trust of his colleagues – including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who named him Chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee during the 116th Congress.
He is a senior member of the House Committee on Agriculture’s Subcommittee on Nutrition and Oversight. He also serves as the Chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and is the Democratic Co-Chair of the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission – both of which monitor, investigate and advocate on behalf of international human rights, the rule of law, and good governance.
Jim’s commitment to public service began at a young age. In 7th grade, Jim volunteered on the 1972 presidential campaign of Senator George McGovern – no relation. When Jim decided to attend college at the American University in Washington, D.C. he applied for an internship in the office of Senator McGovern. He worked his way through college as an intern, earning a BA in history in 1981 before going to work in the office of Congressman Joe Moakley, a Democrat from South Boston. While working for Moakley, Jim went back to American University to earn a Master’s Degree in Public Administration in 1984.
It was also in Moakley’s office that Jim was asked to help lead the investigation of the murders of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter in El Salvador following public outrage in Congress. He exposed that the murders were committed by the U.S. – backed Salvadoran military, leading to a major shift in U.S. foreign policy that made future military aid contingent on improved human rights and a negotiated peace in El Salvador.
Jim saw firsthand what strong, principled leadership looked like while working for Congressman Moakley. But with Newt Gingrich as Speaker, he also saw that too often, Washington worked for the rich and powerful instead of the American people. Jim successfully ran for Congress in 1996 and has won reelection in each subsequent term. After his first election, when Jim was on the House Floor to take the oath of office, he took his two mentors – Moakley and Senator McGovern – with him. He asked them both: “what should I know before I take this oath?”
Senator McGovern said: “get over the fear of losing an election, or else you’ll constantly be obsessed with polls instead of doing what’s right. Always do what’s right.
Congressman Moakley said: “get to know everyone here as a person. Get to know what they stand for and who they are and treat them with respect.”
Jim has never forgotten their advice. From principled stands on tough issues to working with Members of Congress from across the country and on both sides of the aisle, Jim has fought to ensure that every single person in this country and around the world is treated with dignity and respect.
Some of Jim’s Biggest Accomplishments Include:
- Successfully increasing Pell Grant funding for low-income students struggling to afford college.
- Authoring, introducing, and having the president sign into law vital legislation to create a Federal Advisory Council on Grandparents Raising Grandchildren in light of the opioid epidemic.
- Creating the Innovative Approaches to Literacy Program which provides competitive awards to school libraries and not-for-profit organizations for the purposes of providing books and childhood literacy activities to children and families in high-need communities.
- Securing millions of dollars through the appropriations process for the creation of a Wounded Warrior Service Dog Pilot Program to help wounded veterans live with independence and dignity.
- Protecting and expanding the Land and Water Conservation Fund program, especially the stateside program that provides funding for local recreational facilities, urban parks and trails.
- Creating the McGovern-Dole Food for Education program, which provides nutritious meals in a school setting to nearly 9 million of the world’s poorest children.
Jim Has Fought Tirelessly For The People Of Massachusetts Second’ District By:
- Successfully ensuring that federal aid is available for family farms following unusual droughts in Massachusetts by ensuring that economic injury disaster loans are available to farmers in addition to standard disaster assistance.
- Working directly with the FAA and the City of Worcester to secure funding for a new, state-of-the art Category III instrument landing system at Worcester Regional Airport that allows airplanes from destinations across the country to land and take off in all weather conditions.
- Bringing millions of dollars’ worth of federal funding to Worcester that have played a key role in the ongoing redevelopment and revitalization projects downtown like City Square, the Gardner, Kilby Hammond Neighborhood Revitalization Project and the Castle Park project in Main South.
- Championing the creation of the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park to highlight the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution, and securing federal funding for the new state-of-the-art Visitors Center and bike path that runs along the river.
Jim Has Also Worked Tirelessly to Ensure That America Stands up for Global Human Rights:
- Jim wrote, introduced, and saw signed into law the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, which allows the President to punish foreign officials who the U.S. identifies as corrupt or human rights abusers. The law was so successful, Congress later applied it world-wide as the Global Magnitsky Act.
- He wrote, introduced, and saw signed into law the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, which denies Chinese government officials access to the United States if they are responsible for creating or implementing restrictions on American government officials, journalists, independent observers and tourists seeking access to Tibet.
- He has also introduced and championed resolutions to end violence against children globally; prohibit arms sales and security assistance to Saudi Arabia; reduce and eliminate nuclear weapons; and end restrictions on American’s right to travel to Cuba.